Mednyj Aleut language

Mednyj Aleut (also called Copper Island Creole or Copper Island Aleut[3]) was a mixed language that was spoken on Bering Island.

Mednyj Aleut
Native toRussia
RegionCommander Islands
Extinct7 March 2021[1][2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mud
Glottologmedn1235
ELPCopper Island Aleut

Mednyj Aleut is characterized by a blending of Russian and Aleut (primarily Attu) elements in most components of the grammar, but most profoundly in the verbal morphology.[3] The Aleut component comprises the majority of the vocabulary, all the derivational morphology, part of the simple sentence syntax, nominal inflection and certain other grammatical means. The Russian components comprise verbal inflection, negation, infinitive forms, part of the simple sentence syntax and all of the compound sentence syntax.[4]

HistoryEdit

Originally, the language was spoken by Alaskan Creoles on Copper Island, from where it takes its name. The Alaskan Creoles are the descendants of promyshlenniki men employed by the Russian-American Company (RAC) and Aleut and Alutiiq women, and formed a small but influential population in Russian Alaska. They were bilingual in Russian and Aleut, and were defined as a high-status special social group by the RAC.[5]

Due to increased contact with the Russian language in the 1940s, the majority of the population switched to using Russian instead of Mednyj Aleut. In 1970, the entire population of Medny Island was moved to Bering Island. In 1994, it was noted that only 15 native speakers were left: in 2021, the last native speaker, Vera Timoshenko, died at the age of 93.[1][5]

PhonologyEdit

ConsonantsEdit

Mednyj Aleut's consonant inventory mostly consists of phonemes shared between Aleut and Russian. The aspirated sonorants /mh/, /nh/, /lh/ and /jh/, and the uvulars /χ/ and /ʁ/, come from Aleut and do not exist in Russian, while the labials, stops /p/ and /b/, and fricatives /f/ and /v/ come from Russian and do not exist in Aleut. Labials are mostly used in words of Russian origin, while aspirated sonorants are used only in native Aleut words.[5]

Consonants of Mednyj Aleut
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosives p b t d c k q
Fricatives f v s z
ʃ ʒ
x ɣ χ ʁ
Nasals m mh n nh ŋ
Liquids w r j jh h
Laterals l lh

VowelsEdit

The vowel inventory of Mednyj Aleut contains three pairs of vowels from Aleut (/i/, /u/, /a/) and two pairs, /o/ and /e/, from Russian. Vowel length is preserved in Aleut loanwords, and vowels are also lengthened in the verbal inflectional endings borrowed from Russian.[5]

Vowels of Mednyj Aleut
Front Central Back
Close i i: u u:
Mid e e: o o:
Open a a:

SyntaxEdit

Mednyj Aleut has a heavily Russian-influenced syntax. In particular, it has a relatively free word order in comparison to Aleut, which is strictly SOV. However, when the direct object in a sentence is a personal pronoun or when an adjunct in a sentence is an Aleut word, SOV word order is used.

For example:

ex:

on

he

hixtaa-l

say-PAST-3SG

ni-but

no-will-3SG

timas

us

agítal

with

ayx̂acaa-t'

go-INF

on hixtaa-l ni-but timas agítal ayx̂acaa-t'

he say-PAST-3SG no-will-3SG us with go-INF

'He said that he would not go with us.'

Russian complementizers, conjunctions and many wh-words are also used:

ex:

agitaayani-ƞ

friends-my

u

at

min'a

me

katorəye

which

agítaki

with

abaa-l

worked

pucti

almost

huzúƞi

all

ax̂salaa-l-i

die-PAST-3PL

agitaayani-ƞ u min'a katorəye agítaki abaa-l pucti huzúƞi ax̂salaa-l-i

friends-my at me which with worked almost all die-PAST-3PL

'Of my friends with whom I worked, almost all are dead.'

Additionally, negation is similar to Russian: the Russian prefix ni- is used as the negative suffix and the phrase netu/nitu(ka) ('there is no') is used as a special negative existential construction.

ex:

ani

they

ni-saxtazaa-yut

not-lazy-PRES-3PL

ani ni-saxtazaa-yut

they not-lazy-PRES-3PL

'They are not lazy.'

ex:

ya

I

ni-bud-u

not-will-1SG

iĝataa-t'

hurry

ya ni-bud-u iĝataa-t'

I not-will-1SG hurry

'I will not hurry.'

ex:

saalugula-x̂

rain

ilasa-kali-l-i,

wait-start-PAST-PL

saalugula-x̂-ta

rain-EMPH

niitu

there

 

is

 

no

saalugula-x̂ ilasa-kali-l-i, saalugula-x̂-ta niitu {} {}

rain wait-start-PAST-PL rain-EMPH there is no

'We started to wait for rain, but there is no rain.'

Like Russian, Mednyj Aleut does not use copulas in the present tense. The verb 'to be' is the Aleut word 'u-', but Russian verbal inflections are used for it. For example, 'uu-it' means 'is' and 'uu-l-i' means 'were'. The copula is only used in past tense when the predicate is nominal. When the predicate is adjectival, the predicate is inflected for the past tense like a verb is.[5]


ex:

tátka-ƞ

father-my

u

at

min'a

me

aleuuta-x̂

Aleut

uu-l

was-PAST-3SG

tátka-ƞ u min'a aleuuta-x̂ uu-l

father-my at me Aleut was-PAST-3SG

'My father was Aleut.'

ex:

ya

I

cuquyaa-l-a

small-PAST-Fem

ya cuquyaa-l-a

I small-PAST-Fem

'I was small.'

ex:

i

and

vúsim

eight

sútuk

days

saalugula-x̂

rain

ni-bil-a

no-was-PAST-Fem

i vúsim sútuk saalugula-x̂ ni-bil-a

and eight days rain no-was-PAST-Fem

'And for eight days there was no rain.'

MorphologyEdit

NounsEdit

The derivational and inflectional morphology of nouns in Mednyj Aleut comes from Aleut. Notably, Mednyj Aleut contains morphological categories that do not exist in Russian, such as duality. 61.5% of nouns in Mednyj Aleut are of Aleut origin, with the rest coming from Russian.[6]

Singular Dual Plural
-x̂ -x -ƞ, -s
1SG -n -ki-ƞ -ni-ƞ
2SG -n -ki-n -t
1PL -mis -ki -mis
2PL -ci -ki -ci

VerbsEdit

The finite, infinitive and the majority of the nonfinite forms of verbs is of Russian origin while the nominal inflectional morphology is of Aleut origin. For example, this table compares selected finite verb forms for the verb 'to work' between the Bering Island dialect of Aleut, Mednyj Aleut and Russian. The Russian-origin influences are added to the verb stem, which is of Aleut origin.[7] 94% of verbs in the Mednyj Aleut lexicon are of Aleut origin, with a minority coming from Russian. Mednyj Aleut is characterized as considerably more agglutinative than Russian, which is generally considered fusional.[6]

Bering Island Aleut Mednyj Aleut Russian
Present 1SG awa-ku-q aba-ju rabota-ju
2SG awa-ku-x̂t aba-iš rabota-eš'
3G awa-ku-x̂ aba-it rabota-et
1PL awa-ku-s aba-im rabota-em
2PL awa-ku-x̂t-xičix aba-iti rabota-ete
Past 3SG awa-na-x̂
MSG aba-l rabota-l
Future 3SG awa-ƞan ana-x̂ bud-it aba-t' bud-et rabota-t'
Imperative 2SG awa-ʒa aba-j rabota-j

See alsoEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b "Last Native Speaker of Rare Dialect Dies in Russia".
  2. ^ Aleut, Mednyj at Ethnologue (20th ed., 2017)
  3. ^ a b Campbell, Lyle; Bright, William O. (14 July 2016). "North American Indian languages". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  4. ^ Donald Winford (10 January 2003). An Introduction to Contact Linguistics. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9780631212515.
  5. ^ a b c d e Sekerina, Irina A (January 1994). "Copper Island Aleut: A Mixed Language". Languages of the World (8). Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b Language contact and contact languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 2008. pp. 24–27. ISBN 9789027219275.
  7. ^ Transeurasian verbal morphology in a comparative perspective : genealogy, contact, chance. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 2010. pp. 27–29. ISBN 9783447059145.

SourcesEdit